5 Email Marketing Practices Certain to Generate Results
By: Cathy Cain-Blank, President, CC Marketing and Communications
Properly executed email campaigns can do wonders for a company struggling to share ideas and keep in touch with its target audience. Email communications can lead to inquiries, site visits, and, ultimately, orders. Here are essential practices to follow to ensure results.
1) Stop â€œblastingâ€ emails using Outlook or another email program. HTML emails are the standard for communicating with a large audience — not text emails with images inserted and documents attached. Plus, inserting 50+ email addresses in the bcc: field is risky. To Internet Service Providers, itâ€™s a red flag that your email may be spam; they may not even deliver your emails.
Use an Email Service Provider (ESP) such as Constant Contact to create and send HTML emails to your audience. ESPs offer hundreds of templates you can personalize with your colors, logo, signature, graphics and copy. They provide reports for every email campaign showing who opens your emails and who clicks through to your website or other documents you incorporate into the email. This data will help you prioritize follow-up with clients and prospects.
2) Stick to a plan. Letâ€™s say you decide to send a monthly e-newsletter to your audience. The easiest way to stick to this plan is to pick a recurring mail date â€“ e.g., the second Tuesday of each month â€“ and tell your audience how often they will hear from you. Itâ€™s fine to periodically add campaigns to your schedule, such as when youâ€™re introducing a new product or inviting customers to see you at a trade show.
3) Share relevant, meaningful content. Share useful content on a regular basis and in the process youâ€™ll demonstrate your companyâ€™s expertise. This increases the likelihood that your audience will think of your company when they are ready to purchase.
You can still include a call to action to increase response. Offer a free consultation or a free product sample. Include a link to download a white paper or tip sheet. Give the first 15 people who register for a webinar or event a free gift. (You get the idea.)
4) Follow best practices. In our experience, these tactics increase deliverability and open rates:
– Keep your subject line benefits-oriented and no more than 9 words. Donâ€™t be misleading or youâ€™ll lose readers.
– Use your name and company name in the â€œfromâ€ field. It isnâ€™t effective to use only a first name and hope readers are curious enough to open your email.
– Use a personal email address (not sales@, etc.) as the â€œfromâ€ email address. Some email programs show only the email address in the inbox. If your email address isnâ€™t recognizable, your email may not get opened.
– Many people block images. Include Alt Text with images. Alt Text gives clues about the content of your email and encourages recipients to download images.
– Add pre-header text above your email. A teaser about the email with a link to the web version will entice recipients who block images to download them or view the email in their browser. Hereâ€™s an example:
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5) Donâ€™t purchase lists. Are there companies in the marketplace selling email lists? Of course. Do they claim the lists are permission-based? You bet. Itâ€™s highly unlikely they are, however. Think about it â€“ when was the last time you were contacted by a list company asking for permission to have random companies email you?
While itâ€™s true a Federal prosecutor isnâ€™t likely to come after you for breaking the CAN-SPAM Act, if you send emails to a lot of â€œsuspectsâ€ youâ€™ll wind up with a lot of spam reports and/or opt-outs. This could result in your ESP cancelling your Email Account. Weâ€™ve seen it happen when clients werenâ€™t truthful about how they built their email contact list. Bottom line? People open emails from people and companies they know and trust. Youâ€™ll get the best results if you limit your list to clients and prospects who are interested in hearing from you.
Finally, as with any marketing program, set realistic expectations. It may take time for your audience to respond to your email communications but in the long run, a well-planned email program will generate results.
Since 2005 Cathy Cain-Blank has specialized in developing custom emails, enabling B2B companies to share ideas and information with their audiences. Cathy is a Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert and presents email marketing education sessions to groups throughout the Chicago area. CC Marketing is a Constant Contact Business Solutions Partner and serves companies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Contact Cathy at: firstname.lastname@example.org.